May Workshop: Pond Restoration with Caron Wenzel

Join us on May 25th for our Pond Restoration Workshop!

We’re currently in the process of restoring our pond here on the CSC property and we have invited Caron Wenzel to come share her knowledge with us. She is the owner of Blazing Star Inc. that specializes in restoration and agroecological consulting. Last year, we raised money to excavate and empty our pond because it had been overtaken by cattails and algae. This year, we plan to restore the habitat both inside and outside the pond. The pond has been stocked with fish and we are working on replanting the area surrounding the pond.

During this workshop, you will get to hear from Bill Wilson and get a brief summary of what our pond used to look like, some of the problems we are facing, and how we intend to restore it. After lunch, Caron Wenzel will continue with a presentation on what native plants work best for restoring and replanting, and the importance of maintaining a healthy, living soil community in and around a pond. There will also be a portion of the workshop spent outside doing hands-on work by our pond where participants can ask questions and identify plants. For more details on registering, pricing, and itinerary, click here.

April Workshop: Introduction to Rain Gardens

What are rain gardens and what can they do for you and your garden?

This one-day workshop will be on April 27th, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.!

In the morning, there will be a short introduction and an optional walking tour of our town. We will show you some of the neighborhood’s examples of sustainable living and some of the highlights from our recent work on the CSC landscape including: a young food forest, swales, livestock, and our pond that’s in the process of being restored (join us in May for our Pond Restoration workshop!). In the afternoon, we will begin with a brief presentation on rain gardens followed by a hands-on rain garden tutorial on our CSC property.

Rain garden design concept by Kasandra Ireland
Schedule:
10:00-11:45 A.M.: Introduction to tour of the town
12:00-1:00 P.M.: Local/Organic Lunch
1:00-4:00 P.M.: Introduction to Rain Gardens Workshop with Kasandra
Ireland and Meghan Arcari

We will be meeting at our Stelle Community Center where we will gather before the tour and where the presentation and lunch will be held. If you don’t want to join us on the tour, meet us at 12 P.M. for lunch.

Cost: $40 per person (lunch included)

Space can be limited, so please call or email to reserve a spot.

EarthCamp Village – From Dream to Reality

The groundbreaking of the next phase in the permaculture design for the CSC landscape has gone underway this summer.  EarthCamp Village will consist of a series of shelters made mostly out of natural and recycled materials found close to Stelle, particularly clay.  These cabins made mostly from clay slip, clay brick and cob will provide luxury camping accommodations for those visiting or taking trainings here at CSC as well as provide a natural building demonstration site.  These structures will to help facilitate the concept of Agraria , living close to the land but not cut off from community.

Design-Build-Team-Dudley-Ernest-Randy-Hayden-Tim1CSC staff members, interns , friends, and various residents of Stelle have all contributed to this project taking it from the drawing board to a beautiful, in-progress, structure.

Pictured is the completed timber-framing sitting on a rubble trench with a cement bond beam.  Posing are 5 MIdwest Permaculture PDC graduates who took key roles in its construction.

Click here for a picture summary of the construction progress
of Earth-Shelter #1.

Midwest Permaculture (MWP)  has partnered with CSC to create the various structures. Plans for developing the rest of EarthCamp Village include designs such as this “hobbit hole”  among many others. 

Hobbit-Root-Cellar

Click Here
More Pics of Cute Cabins
Learn more about our plans for EarthCamp Village and to view pictures of other attractive cabins and their interiors.

CSC is excited to be on this journey of creating a physical representation of blending sustainable living and community that can serve for both education and everyday function. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Time at CSC – Food, Fun and Forward Motion

As the summer months have arrived, our CSC community garden has produced bountiful diversity, we broke ground for Earth-Camp Village, and celebrated the 4th of July and the 40 year anniversary of Stelle on the same weekend. 

In the gardens, bountiful harvests of spinach , lettuces, green onions, garlic scapes, rhubarb , asparagus, mulberries, redcurrants, and even a little cattail have been filling our CSA shares the past several weeks. In addition to the fruits and vegetable crops gathered, our interns successfully raised and harvested 42 birds for the community chicken co-op.  It was a full circle experience for the intern staff to see first hand the fruits of their labor.       

In preparation for the coming months, potatoes, peppers, sunflowers, mid-season greens, celery, okra, eggplant, pole beans, bush beans, squashes, and the three sisters guild have all been planted. 

garden planting

CSC has intentionally made bio-diversity a key component of the gardens which also presents an opportunity our our interns to learn about the care of many varieties.

(Click here for personal reflections of our interns journey in sustainability this summer.) 

Besides the gardens, a new project has also made its way to the forefront as we begin the next stage of the permaculture design for the CSC property–the building of what we are calling Earth Camp Village.  This will be a demonstration sire for natural building techniques that use clay as a primary source of building material since it is our most bountiful resource besides sun and rain. The cabins can be used for short-term lodging/camping for interns, students, and guest of CSC and Midwest Permaculture. The intern staff of CSC and some volunteers of the community have all taken a turn at the shovel as this ground breaking design has begun to take shape! Even Bill (Wilson of Midwest Permaculture) lost 6 lbs. from a weeks worth of digging.

Rubble trenchCome and see the progression of the Earth Camp design and learn the principals behind living in an alternative life style in our afternoon workshop on August 10th. 

Even with the busy operations of the gardens, co-ops, and land developments, time for celebration and community was made over the July 4th weekend for our community’s annual Festival of Joy.

This annual celebration commemorates the founding of Stelle, our nation’s independence declared in 1776, and expressions of gratitude for all of the freedoms we enjoy.

IMG_5517

Games, talent shows, a parade, food and laughter set the stage to give thanks for what the community of Stelle that has been and created over it 40 years.    (To the left you can see the classic lawn-mower-tractor race.)

tent cropped

From the small talk of many families enjoying a beautiful day together, to the music and talents within the community being displayed during our annual variety show, it brought home the importance of the work at hand within CSC for creating sustainable community.

 

 

Summer Intern Staff – Adventures of the Young and Restless

The garden was blooming, the bees were buzzing, and summer interns arrived to take part in the many activities the CSC and Midwest Permaculture (MWP) had to offer in the coming weeks. 

Our second pair of interns (Dan and Conner) took an 8-day Permaculture Design Course with MWP then settled into life here in Stelle for a 4-week internship.  They  participated in Monday night co-op dinners, preparing Wednesday lunches for the community, pub nights, and even some swimming pool time setting the pace for their summer experience in sustainable community.                                                                                                              

The interns, while enjoying community, also learned many practical skills such as raising chickens, planting and harvesting from the 2-acre garden, and advanced composting . 

shot of garden bed

In addition to their practical skill set, they also learned to use sustainable design principals in everyday life situations, from learning how to build the foundation of a natural building, to approaching business from a holistic perspective. 

 So far this summer, the interns have had multiple experiences in different community based businesses, learning how to feed, care for and harvest 42 chickens for a community co-op, how to run a local artisan bread business, and projects like developing building design with natural low cost materials.

 

interns conner &dan chicken harvesting

 Chicken Co-op

Conner and Dan (right) harvested the chickens that I (Mary-Kate) helped to raise in the first internship period.

                       “Spending time with everyone and learning to harvest                                                      chickens were some of  the best times I had during my internship.” – Dan 

Below, Ernest (who guides the internship program) teaches about making bread from a local business perspective.  

bread making3                      interns diggining earth camp foundation close up

                                                   (L to R) Hayden, Dan, Conner and Earnest creating                                                        the foundation for the first CSC natural building.        

 

dan operating backhoe Dan operating the back hoe we rented for one day to dig the final trench for the 1st earth shelter.  This structure will be timber framed and the walls made of cob (clay, sand, straw).                                                                                            

research for design

 

 

Bill, Conner and Mary-Kate Researching  the design for the earth camp village, and maintaining the daily operations of CSC.

 

In their few weeks of bonding from coming across the United States with different back grounds, they discovered a common unity in their interest for a sustainable future being a highlight of their summer eager for a better tomorrow while embracing the days at hand.

Conner one of our summer interns, reflected on these experiences in learning practically applied permaculture.conner survey for earth camp building

” I liked learning how to live off the land in a sustainable manner, the basics of gardening and animal husbandry are unique and vital skills that modern homesteaders and permaculturists must acquire in order to succeed in their  endeavors. Permaculture is more than a design system, it is a lifestyle. When we apply the same principals of creating harmonious, nurturing environments, we as a culture of care, can secure a legacy of abundance for future generations.”