Sustainable Happenings in Permaculture Ypsi

The Transition Ypsilanti “Permaculture Folk School” met for about 18 months or so and then went on a hiatus for about 8 months.  Now the group has morphed into “Abundant Michigan – Permaculture Ypsilanti,” a new group mostly organizing through Facebook.  So far the group has been meeting monthly since June 2012, engaging in work days (also known as “Permablitzes”), sprouting a Growers Guild of folks each committed to growing 200 perennial food plants in ten different useful species, and much more.  The main organizer is Jesse Tack.  (Thanks, Jesse!)  Although many participants have carried over from the previous Permaculture Folk School group, many more are now participating.  About 65 are part of the group, with attendance being between 15-20 at the monthly meeting, which takes place the first Monday of each month at Growing Hope.

You’ll be hearing much more about AMBY!  Join us at our first Monday meetings — we’ll be addressing growing but also the many other aspects of permaculture as depicted on the Permaculture Flower above.

Link to Abundant Michigan – Permaculture Ypsi…

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Potlucking w Transition Ypsilanti

Transition Ypsilanti continues with regular inflows of energy from a variety of people. The idea of the Facebook page as the center of action continues to work pretty well, but some folks were feeling the lack of face-to-face interaction. (The Facebook page is here.)

Thus the weekly potluck! Check the page for the rotating location.  Lots of leadership is being provided by youth who are doing urban agriculture in Ypsilanti and nearby, especially the growers at Walnut Grove Urban Farm.    

Also in Transition Town Ypsi news: Mary G. is working on updating the Sustainable Ypsilanti website. The hope is that the website can be a hub of transition-like initiatives in our area.

The Abundant Michigan-Permaculture Ypsilanti group was founded several months ago, growing out of the TTY Permaculture Folk School. The group is meeting the first Monday of each month at the Growing Hope Center. We are seeking to apply permaculture solutions to all the challenges to Ypsi resilience and forming a working group to share labor and resources. First workdays have already taken place in August & more are planned for September.

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Urban Farming a la Novella

Farm City: The Education of an Urban FarmerFarm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked Novella Carpenter’s style of writing. She has a sardonic working class voice that shines through every page of this book.

I liked that she is willing to experiment in the search for a self-sufficient life in terms of growing her own food, especially that she isn’t some kind of hippie vegan or vegetarian. When she talks locally grown food, she’s including rabbits, turkeys, and pigs.

One complaint I had is the extent of Carpenter’s buy-in that self-sufficiency is the goal. I would like to think that there could have been more interaction with her community. I’d like to have seen Carpenter discover that community interdependence is much more sustainable than trying to raise every mouthful on your own.

There are many moments when Carpenter almost grudgingly waxes poetic about the beauty she is creating and how much she loves interacting with Nature even in a crazed place like Oakland. (Although other reviewers have pointed out that she depicts Oakland as a little bit more of a war zone than it actually is.) I also live in a post-industrial working class town that is trying to re-invent itself. I think Carpenter is a little embarrassed about how deeply she is affected by gardening, interacting with animals, the sacred act of taking a life and consuming it.

Carpenter does learn from her mistakes and I give her points for trying to raise a pig on an urban lot. I think she’s young & headstrong — I get the feeling from her tone that she thinks (like many young people) that she’s the FIRST PERSON EVER to have tried urban agriculture and that she’s not someone who learns through research about what has worked for others. She’s a learn-by-doing kind of person. I respect that. And to be fair, this is mostly a memoir and not really a gardening manual.

Be warned, though. There are a lot of graphic descriptions of animal death in the book. Carpenter is unflinching and not one for assigning cuddly human traits to her food animals. I’m looking forward to her book on urban agriculture, The Essential Urban Farmer.

View all my reviews

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Time for the Re-Skilling Festival!

A project of many Transition Initiatives around the globe is to recover lost skills — things that almost everybody once knew how to do but which are now fading into obscurity. We’re so lucky to have the Ann Arbor ReSkilling Festival right next door to our community twice per year.

Date: Sunday, July 15th.
Location: Rudolf Steiner High School, 2230 Pontiac Trail Rd., Ann Arbor
Time: 10am-5pm (doors open at 9:30am)
Admission: Free (some sessions have small material fees)

Sessions are as diverse as fire-starting, perspective drawing, gardening 101, co-counseling, bread-making, origami, and much more! The workshop schedule was just posted:

After this event, two organizers (sadly) need to step away from organizing. With the future of the festival in the balance, we will be hosting an important conversation from 4-5pm in the commons. This conversation is open to the entire community, and we hope it will advance the possibility that the festival continues into the future.

See you there!

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Asking Ypsi

A conversation in writing between town & gown — sponsored by EMU Urban Planning.  





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May Day in Ypsi


Immediately after the first Downtown Farmers Market of the year, we’re gathering on the Water Street meadow.  Share a meal with friends, strangers, and a host of local community groups.

We will engage in fun, frivolity, networking, putting faces to names, sharing what we are up to, what we wish for our community.  

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Lovely Rocket Stove Hearth

1 Photos – Google+.

Found this lovely rocket stove adaptation through the forums at  I believe the burn chamber in this picture is below the cooking pots.  Behind the hearth, you can see the warming bench.  The exhaust pipes are located within the bench and warm the thermal mass that comprises the bench.  My understanding is that you could heat a space like this with less than a cord of wood per winter using a rocket stove like this one.  Fantastic.

Much more about rocket stoves here:

The local expert around here on rocket stoves is Nate Ayres at

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