Want to grow what you eat … even if you’re in the city. We’ll discuss this and tell you how, on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: PATRICIA CEGLIA ON PERMACULTURE
Guests: Patricia Ceglia
Date: September 5, 2016
Frank: Want to grow what you eat … even if you’re in the city. We’ll discuss this and tell you how, on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Yes. As always, those are my babies. Thanks for getting daddy’s daughter today.
Permaculture designer, Pattie Ceglia is with us today and I’m curious, why should we garden even when Walmart sells organic produce these days?
Patricia: Well, for one thing we don’t know where the produce actually comes from. It could come from California, it can come from South America, and although it’s organic, which is a really good thing there is a lot of embodied energy involved in getting the produce to us. So in other words, the transportation requires a lot of muscle fuel which is limited resource. So from a permaculture point of view, we try to meet our daily needs more locally.
Frank: And what about the road side… What’s better for me to buy produce from? I live in DC. Occasionally you can get watermelons from somebody that’s just parked outside of the road, you can get them from Whole Foods, you can get the from Walmart, you can go to the Farmers’ Market… You have a suggested preference?
Patricia: Well again, a Farmers’ market is going to have local produce. Road side stand is most likely going to be selling local produce. Whole Foods does label the source of their produce so it tells you where it comes from, so it might be local. Also, we want to be concerned with preserving and promoting our local economy so when we buy from a local farmer, whether it’s at a farm or at a Farmers’ market, we’re keeping our money in our local community which makes it healthier rather than supporting a national business.
Frank: we’re often talking to men and here’s a man question…
Nancy: I apologize Pattie.
Frank: Do women find men who grow their own food sexy?
Nancy: I do.
Patricia: I don’t know…
Patricia: I have to do a survey. I mean, in general I think that farmers are not [unclear]… wealthy? So with that comes into play, maybe not? But…
Frank: But they may very well be considered… maybe a buff…
Nancy: Have a little sex appeal?
Frank: Yeah, yeah… do it for self…
Nancy: Brains and brawn kind of thing…
Patricia: Absolutely. And I think anyone who knows how to do something with their hands these days, besides use a computer is admirable.
Frank: So I’ma take it to you, Nancy.
Patricia: And also, you can think of it as someone who’s very resourceful and can take care of themselves in a more direct way.
Frank: Nancy, you said that they are sexy.
Nancy: Oh definitely.
Frank: Alright, share.
Nancy: Absolutely. Especially—
Frank: Why do you find me sexy?
Nancy: Here we go… First of all, I have no understanding of you growing your own food… Let’s just get that out there, right now…
Frank: But see, you don’t need that unders—
Nancy: I don’t need that understanding.
Frank: you already— I know how you feel about me.
Nancy: Oh oh okay…
Frank: And it could be the quiet characteristics because you may not know it but I do grow my own food.
Nancy: I didn’t know it.
Frank: I don’t.
Nancy: [unclear]… Thank you.
Jeff: I guess herbs don’t count.
Nancy: Yeah… Mercy. Which herbs? You know I know 1, 2, 3, I was thinking about that yesterday when I was preparing—I know atleast three men who live in an urban environment and they grow some amount of their own food.
Frank: Now how are you spelling urban? Is it “r”? Is it U-R-B-A-N?
Nancy: U-R-B-A-N. Yeah.
Frank: It’s not H-E-R-B-A-N?
Nancy: It should be right? That should be an interaction—I like that.
Frank: Oh you like that?
Nancy: Thank you.
Frank: I came up with that on my own just now especially piggybacking off Jeff’s smart comment.
Nancy: Mercy…. So Pattie, the one thing about what you just said about Whole Foods and that they sell locally grown produce, one of the things I noticed is and often how I end up making my own buying decision is often the locally grown produce is not organic. It clearly states conventionally grown. How am I to feel about that if I’m into per se, organic produce?
Patricia: Well I would towards local Farmers’ market. DC is quite a star in that area becasue they have so many Farmers’ markets…
Patricia: And DC is one city which produces almost none of its own needs if we think about our basic needs for food, energy and so on… It’s such a huge region and we don’t really produce much locally because of the function of the city as the capital. So it’s kind of a remarkable thing that all the local farmers are coming into the city every week to sell their produce.
The other interesting thing about supporting that is that we will eat seasonally—
Patricia: …if we buy locally which is healthier for our bodies. So in the winter we’ll be eating more root vegetables which are better for us in the winter time to keep us warm and so forth. So it’s a more natural process.
Frank: Welcome to Frank Relationships, a show for you my brethren who like me, are too young to be considered old and too old to be considered young. It’s also for those of you that love and support us. We’re here to provide weekly wisdom, conversation and the information that’ll help create loving and flexible parents and partners.
I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com. If you’re listening to the show on Blog Talk Radio, please follow us and if via iTunes, please subscribe so that you can effortlessly get each week.
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Greetings to my super duper co-host, Nancy Goldring.
Nancy: Good morning, Frank. How are you?
Frank: I’m great. The consummate generalist is in the house.
Frank: Yes, yes. We’ve got a special guest today. She has a significant history in architecture and designs, beautiful, multifunctional in and outdoor environments. She can take your vision and change your residential lot, a house, a historic structure, farmstead, park, church, school yard or community into a personalized and restorative habitat.
So, if you like me, want to know what permaculture is, any stats relative to whether planting a garden will boost my sex appeal (I already know the answer to this) and how permaculture might bring people together, then stay tuned as your Frank Relationships team talks about permaculture with practitioner and instructor, Pattie Ceglia.
Welcome to the show.
Patricia: Thank you Frank.
Frank: Of course. Before we get too deep into today’s’ subject matter, we’re going to check in to see what’s going on in the news or the world related to relationships, Patricia as we’re calling you Pattie, I hope that’s okay… Although I’ve already gotten the clearance… Just publicly I’ve gotten the clearance, people. Please don’t be bashful. We want your thoughts too. Alright? You ready, Pattie?
Frank: Alright, alright. In line with what we’re talking about today… Ever wonder what it would be like to date or even be in a relationship if you were a farmer? Yeah.
Nancy: If I were a farmer?
Frank: Yup. Stuck all the way out in the fields somewhere… Just you, you were raised by your momma and your daddy and they passed the farm down to you… It’s just you and your brother’s a drunk and he’s gone off the…
Nancy: The city…
Frank: Yeah… And it’s just you to man the fields…
Nancy: To woman the fields…
Frank: Yeah, yeah… That…
Nancy: Right? Right? Okay…
Frank: Alright. So what’re you going to do about dating?
Nancy: Call a friend?
Frank: You ain’t got no friends.
Nancy: Oh wait. Wait for somebody or here’s a deal… You wait for somebody who’s actually coming through town, going someplace else and is lost to stop by…
Jeff: I’ve heard that show…
Frank: I have not.
Nancy: That is…
Jeff: Daddy’s daughter?
Frank: Ahh. Now that I’ve heard.
Nancy: I was thinking more of Bridges Madison County guys.
Jeff: I was thinking more of E-I-E-I-O.
Nancy: Oh lord…
Frank: I was thinking more of…. what was it? When the guy says “mmm…”
Nancy: I don’t know that.
Frank: Ah let’s see… Those of you who knows the joke…
Jeff: Yeah, yeah…
Nancy: I don’t know…
Jeff: A couple of those… I will say this though…
Jeff: Farming is big business.
Frank: It is.
Jeff: You get a lot of the redneck, the overalls, you know hoe the land [unclear]… I’m telling it. Gentlemen farmers like an Eastern Long Island or New York, they’re raising ducks and as well as a lot of vegetables and grain and stuff…
Jeff: These are businessmen… Serious, serious businessmen. And it can be very lucrative. I know Pattie’s talking about more for farm to table, that kind of thing. There are restaurants doing a lot of that now as well.
Nancy: Sure, sure.
Jeff: And making big business out of growing their own stuff.
Jeff: I’ve got a little 4 x 8 garden…
Nancy: Do you really?
Jeff: My wife deals with it. Mostly tomatoes because they grow incredibly.
Jeff: So I try to put to paper, do I actually save money or is all the top soil and seeds and everything I’ve put into this kind of a wash, but it is kind of fun. You go outside and pull in 5 tomatoes and here’s dinner.
Nancy: Yeah, yeah.
Frank: Okay. So…
Frank: Pattie, what do you got in terms of dating on a farm?
Patricia: Well actually, when I was a lot younger, I did date a farmer.
Nancy: Did you?
Patricia: Believe it or not.
Patricia: And he started the farm himself. He was a fruit grower actually. He had an orchard so he tried to go organic and was unsuccessful and just went conventional. It was quite an eye opening [unclear]….
Frank: Is that what got you in the permaculture?
Patricia: For those farming… It wasn’t really permaculture, no. But it was interesting to observe the farming aspects of it and also the lifestyle of a farmer because it really is dawn to dusk.
Patricia: And not a life for me. I do respect farmers a lot. And then the task of being a farmer is much different of course than a gardener because you’re completely dependent on producing a high quality product every season because that’s your income.
Patricia: And we did have a tornado one summer that wiped out maybe a quarter of this tree so it’s a vulnerable business too in relation to the weather. So that is the problem with mono-cropping too.
Patricia: You know, growing…
Frank/Nancy: One thing.
Patricia: A lot one or two kinds of crop.
Frank: When you say it’s not for you, does that mean, you were not willing to be in a relationship with someone who’s farming because of the time that he had to put into the fields or you weren’t willing to be in a relationship because—
Nancy: All the time, you had to put in the field…
Frank: You need to do something—right… Or maybe he didn’t want—
Patricia: Well I don’t think…
Frank: Maybe he didn’t want to be in a relationship with you?
Patricia: I think it don’t have anything to do with that really…
Patricia: More like personal but certainly, the lifestyle consideration and… But also, I had the opportunity to observe the spraying of the chemical and fruit has tons of chemical spray on it.
Patricia: Just kind of horrific to watch and the chemicals have to be locked up… literally locked up.
Frank: Because they’re dangerous?
Patricia: Yeah. That’s how dangerous they are and the farmers put on basically rain gear and exhaust mask when they spray. It’s a very serious thing. And when you see that and I had a young child at that time and my daughter was very young. So you know, mothers are always concerned about [unclear] and quite shocking to see in person.
Frank: Speaking of dating, the dating component, there is now a website… You know, there’s always going to be a website that meets the needs of anyone who’s got whatever’s going on…
Frank: Yup. FarmersOnly.com…
Frank: Or I think it’s—I know it’s Farmers Only… I’m thinking it’s .com…
Frank: And it’s a website for dating amongst farmers and it’s national. So I may meet you and you’re in Idaho or something like that and I’m in Florida.
Nancy: Just a stone’s throw away.
Frank: Yeah right. And people connect that way.
Frank: You know about this Pattie?
Patricia: Well, I’m not surprised. I guess I’ve seen a similar thing. I mean this is a very distinct lifestyle, very different than [unclear]…
Nancy: So you’re saying Farmers Only is not the only dating website for farmers out there, Pattie?
Patricia: Uhm well… I don’t know about that [unclear]…
Frank: Okay, okay. And what about people who do permaculture? I mean, are you all—would you be allowed on the website as a farmer or are you something else?
Nancy: Too urbanly inclined.
Patricia: I don’t really know. I guess I’d have to check it out. but I did want to mention that permaculture goes way beyond farming…
Nancy: Yeah… Yeah I appreciate the blog because that was enlightening.
Frank: Tell us about it. What does that mean?
Patricia: It’s about trying to produce our basic needs locally so it’s not just food. It’s water, energy, even fiber, medicine… So if you say you grow your own herbs, we can very easy to grow medicinal herbs and culinary herbs on a small piece of land. In fact, the man who developed the concept of permaculture design is Bill Mollison who is an Australian research biologist and professor. He grew up in Tasmania, literally living next door to Aborigines. As a child, he witnessed their lifestyle and then as an adult, he began to compare it to his own western lifestyle. He noticed that one was sustainable and the other one wasn’t. So the Aborigines would steward their environment. So if they saw [unclear] an animal between the [unclear] numbers, they would stop hunting it for a while. They saw a tree, dwindling in numbers, they would gather the seeds and plant it.
So they basically cultivated their environment so that it was very productive whereas most of us are consuming resources without any awareness of… so much we’re using up. And that was really the beginning of the concept and of course he observed that most native cultures behave that way.
They are concern with their own survival so they base their decision making on planning for the future. So it’s not just food, it’s shelter, it’s building materials, it’s relating—you’re talking about relationship, this is a relationship to the earth where we live. But I teach is how to develop a relationship with the place where you live that goes beyond… knowing your neighbors or something which is all good, but if we realize that we have natural resources like sun and wind and soil to work with, we can try to become a producer as well as a consumer.
Frank: Would you give a quick definition of what permaculture is?
Patricia: Well the term means “permanent agriculture”…
Patricia: …and suggest that no culture can survive without a permanent form of agriculture. One does not deplete the soil and destroy top soil but rather, we generate the soil and doesn’t pollute the environment to water and pollute air, and so forth… And since it’s a design method, it seeks to mimic natural ecosystems by designing human habitats that provide our daily needs such as water, shelter, so on…
Frank: And how does that look? I mean, what does that look like?
Patricia: Okay, well I could just briefly give you an example…
Patricia: In the course, what we do, we actually document what we’re consuming as like what our household is consuming… Not in exact detail but what is our diet, how much water—we do calculate how much water we’re consuming. We also do a water budget and look at how much water is falling on our property, falling on our roof… We look at where that soot is coming from… We look at our energy bills and how much we’re literally consuming. We look at our home and building constructions to see whether it’s efficient or not… We look at medicine and are we using pharmaceuticals or herbs or what and where they’re coming from… And even fiber for clothing. Almost none of the clothing that we purchase is produced in the US. Almost all of it comes from overseas.
Frank: Speaking of clothing…
Frank: I watched this show called “Naked and Afraid”. Do you watch it?
Frank: It’s a show where a man and a woman are put in a very remote location… It could be another country, Argentina, South Africa… It could be all kinds of places. They are put there naked…
Frank: …with one tool each. And they have to survive for 21 days and I rarely… So once they got to build a shelter and hunt and all of that good stuff… I rarely see them pay much attention to clothing. I’m curious… How does one… Honestly I don’t even know if this is your thing or if you know the answer to this… But how does one go about creating clothes for themselves. And I’m not just talking about clothes to cover up your genitals. I’m talking about clothes that’s going to keep you warm at night.
Frank: Or a blanket or something like that.
Nancy: From the environment?
Frank: Yeah, from the environment. How do you that?
Patricia: Okay well I’m not suggesting that we all have to produce all of our own needs but to think about trying to produce some locally. So for instance, there are people that raise sheep and produce wool locally. We can grow cotton in this area. I’m not—
Frank: What is this area?
Patricia: I’m not [unclear] that everybody can produce all of their own needs but if we tick some of the things that we can do and then maybe support people or barter for other needs and try to get them locally, then we start to create a local economy. So in California, there was a group of people who started what they call a “fiber shed” and they did a survey at the state to find all of the people that were raising fiber crops. So either sheep or alpacas or whatever and also [unclear] cotton or other fibers… and they mapped these locations. Then they found all the people that were processing these fibers. So weavers, sewers and hand workers and so on and they mapped those. And then they proposed building a mill in a centralized location that way [unclear] accessible to all these locations that people could share to bring their fiber and have it processed and then have a fabric to work with.
So that’s like a futuristic kind of vision of what could happen instead of us designing fancy clothes, having them sewn in India or China like people who are making almost nothing and having them sent back.
Frank: It doesn’t sound futuristic. It sounds like it’s happening now.
Nancy: That is happening now.
Nancy: She’s talking about the fiber mill.
Frank: But isn’t that happening now?
Nancy: The fiber mill?
Nancy: The fiber mill situation you just explained.
Patricia: It hasn’t been built yet, it’s a proposal but I’m just saying it’s like… I haven’t heard anything like that but these are people who have attempted to imagine how we could answer that question you just asked me.
Nancy: I got it. Okay, okay.
Frank: You’ve mentioned local versus conventional, you kind of have mentioned that. And you said that… what I extracted from what you said is that if you have to pick between local and conventional—
Nancy: No, local and organic.
Frank: Ah, okay. Local—
Nancy: Because something organic could be coming from Costa Rica.
Frank: Okay. Local versus organic. You suggest—what I extracted is that you suggest go local. Is that—
Patricia: I actually suggest both.
Patricia: A lot of the Farmers’ market have organic produce. That’s what I know if it’s all organic. Yeah, that’s what I would—that’s the idea. I mean, we’re always looking for the ideal [unclear].
Frank: I go to the Farmers’ market all the time and particularly, I go to buy flowers and I go to buy flowers for the ladies in my life. So I buy flowers for my wife, I buy flowers for my daughters, I buy flowers for the living room, I buy flowers to put down just for beauty. I do not buy flowers for Nancy.
Nancy: Thank you.
Frank: I do not buy them for Nancy. Nancy’s mean to me on the days when we record. It’s passive-aggressive.
Nancy: Oh my god…
Frank: I must let you know that I’m not buying flowers for you so that you can feel affected by it. do you understand? If I just didn’t buy them and never told you—
Nancy: Right, right.
Frank: You wouldn’t know.
Nancy: Because prior to this show, I was clueless.
Frank: Yes. But I’m letting you know now, you’re mean.
Nancy: That you don’t bring flowers into the studio.
Frank: Yes because you’re mean to me.
Nancy: Because I’m mean to you?
Nancy: Actually, translation Pattie… mean to him means I’m truthful.
Nancy: Can’t have that…
Frank: Okay, so… I go to the Framers’ market, I buy flowers.
Frank: I generally don’t buy produce there.
Frank: Because it’s so expensive. It’s much more—
Nancy: At the Farmers’ market?
Frank: Seriously. It’s much more expensive at the Farmers’ market than it is to go the Giant down the street. I got my routine every Sunday morning…
Frank: I meditate, I go to the Farmers’ market to buy flowers—
Frank: And then I go the Giant to buy my produce. That’s honestly what I do. Pattie, here’s my hand, smack me on it and tell me why I’m wrong.
Nancy: Don’t miss your chance…
Patricia: Okay, well I’m not going to say you’re wrong…
Nancy: Say it Pattie…
Patricia: It’s a practical choice. You’re trying to live within your budget but if we think about how that food was produced for Giant, we probably have a legal farm workers working for below minimum wage growing that food. So we’re supporting that activity.
Nancy: You know, I never thought about that before.
Patricia: You’re supporting the transpiration too… you know, the fossil fuel. I mean it’s crazy that it’s cheaper. I can’t [unclear] why it’s cheaper.
Frank: Oh it’s absolutely cheaper, like double.
Nancy: Yeah, yeah.
Nancy: Now I know for myself I’ve been to the Farmers’ market where I went to say buy Kale and I looked at the [unclear] Kale and for the price they were charging, I knew that I could go to Whole Foods or even Mom’s and buy the same exact Kale. I already know it’s $3.50, I’m like why am I paying $4-5 because they grew it and I’m saying and theoretically atleast as you said, it takes more to get the Kale from farm to even super market at a super market. So I’m saying, how is it that this is more expensive and it may not be locally grown and it’s more expensive. So I definitely was confused about that.
Patricia: Well I think one possibility is that the real estate in the region is so expensive that you can imagine trying to pay your taxes and your mortgage as a farmer…
Patricia: At local real estate value. The other thing that I suggest is that people join a community garden which is a lot of fun. Find a garden your neighborhood, get a little plot and grow your own.
Frank: Help us… We are city people, Nancy and I and we just don’t know what goes in to farming. We don’t know about those chemicals that you are mentioning, we don’t know about the labor issue that you were noting… I certainly am not aware of it. so help to educate us on the nuances, the stuff behind produce.
Nancy: Getting us food…
Frank: What could possibly— yeah. Getting us food. What could possibly be involved that we don’t see that’s incredibly, that’s possibly devastating, that’s possibly dangerous… What do you have there? please color—draw us a picture.
Patricia: Okay well I’m not an expert in the area because I’m focused on the opposite but all I can say is we now we have an issue with global warming, right?
Patricia: It’s going to affect all of us.
Patricia: Sea levels are going to rise, there’s going to be—we already are experiencing more severe weather and so on. So if we think about that and we think about our children and our children’s children, and how we are going to survive all these, we may start thinking we have to do something now and a lot of people don’t know what to do and they don’t know where to start especially if you live in a city.
So what I always suggest is you just start at home with the most basic changes and I’m suggesting that if we change our mindset to imagine that we can become native to the place where we live, we’re all descendants of indigent people… Way, way back when. So it’s in our DNA. It’s something we can rekindle.
I’m not saying that we have to become farmers or we have to become hunter gatherers or something. It’s just that in a modern way, we have to find ways to first of all, conserve resources and use less and be less of a consumer, and not waste resources.
Secondly, find ways to produce some of our own needs or atleast support people who are producing them for.
Frank: This is Frank Relationships, a show for you my brethren who like me, are too young to be considered old and too old to be considered young. It’s also for those of you that love and support us. We’re here to provide weekly wisdom, conversation and the information that’ll help create better parents and partners. You can find this in our archives shows. They’re well over a hundred at franklove.com on Blog Talk. You can also find it on iTunes and Stitcher.
What is foresting? And if it’s different, how is it different to permaculture?
Nancy: Forest farming?
Patricia: Oh forest farming? Well… It’s a term that refers to mimicking the structure of a natural forest ecosystem by using plants and trees of different heights. So in a natural forest, we have canopy trees which are the tallest, and then we have understory trees which is sort of live underneath of those. Then we have shrubs, herbaceous plants that cover the ground, [unclear] that are mostly roots underneath the ground. We have fungi.
Patricia: We have vines… So it’s all those types of plants growing together in harmony. And they have relationships with each other, like beneficial relationship. So we do that on a smaller scale by maybe substituting a nut tree for the canopy tree, a dwarf fruit tree for an understory tree, blueberries or raspberries or something for a shrub. We can grow vegetables or herbs on the ground. We can grow mushrooms, we can grow grapes, and so on. We sort of mimic this relationship but in a forest, there’s a lot of [unclear] and edible plants, in our climate, need a lot of sun. So we have to spread the plants out. We can’t put them as close together as they are [unclear]. But that’s what the term means.
Frank: Mushrooms are one of those issues that are… they’re dangerous, potentially. How might you—how do you know when to eat a mushroom or not? Or if…
Patricia: Well you have to be highly trained but you can easily grow shitake mushrooms on your own. they grow on logs usually, oak log and that’s something you could do at home.
Frank: Got it. Are you able to do the multilevel farming or growing that you were just noting? Is that something that you as someone who designs permaculture can do in my backyard or I my apartment? How can you interject our services and skill into my environment?
Patricia: Well depending on the size of your yard, you could do something like that in your yard. It is conducive to small spaces because it’s vertical. So instead of just having horizontal ground to grow on, you also have vertical space.
For people who live in condos and apartment buildings, I always suggest they get proactive and see if they can start growing something on the ground. Apartment complexes or condo complexes have land, common land. I think in the future, a lot of that is going to be used for growing food. In San Francisco, the mayor of several years ago had his staff do a survey of all the open land in the city, all the open public land.
Patricia: And that’s [unclear] include churches and other types of public buildings that have typically have open land. He actually dedicated part of the plaza city hall to growing food. To me, that’s sort of a picture of what future might look at… Where instead of having a 2-day supply of food in every city, we have a plan and place that ensures that we have a steady supply of food locally. So we would need to go beyond the city to see if we can grow food in our region and support farmers to do that.
Nancy: Well you know what, Frank? I just want to say I have a friend who has an extensive vegetable garden on his balcony. He lives in a condo and own his balcony. He has boxes, he has these…. Unusual date. I thought they were those shade lights that hang from the ceiling. I thought they were lights. They actually had tomatoes growing in them. He had a couple of fruit trees out there. He has green beans, kale, malabar, lambs quarter, just endless. And all of these is on his balcony and he still manages to have enough space for two people to sit out there and just kind of enjoy the scene. It’s fabulous.
Patricia: That’s great.
Nancy: So yes, Pattie mentioned every condo have some land space that people could use but you could also… I want the listeners to know that you can do this on your own turf, so to speak, on your own balcony.
Nancy: And beautifully, actually.
Frank: Tell me about this friend. Who is this guy?
Nancy: Here we go, Pattie. You know, I can’t say anything, I can’t mention anything. He always needs extra information that is not material to the conversation. Puh-lease. You know… you and I did a workshop a month ago or so? Amsha does permaculture.
Frank: Ah okay.
Nancy: Right on his yard.
Frank: Okay. Interesting.
Nancy: See that?
Frank: See, [unclear] that’s cute how you deflect your… That’s alright. Okay, we’re going to leave that alone.
Nancy: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. So let’s see who is that Amsha does it, Emanuael grows his own food, so does Denori.
Nancy: See that?
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with permaculture designer, teacher and practitioner, Patricia Ceglia. Patricia, please tell us what are you up to and how can we find you?
Patricia: Okay. Well actually I have a certificate course coming up at the end of September. This is program created by Bill Mollison, the originator of permaculture to teach basically anybody about permaculture in 72 hours. So I have scheduled the course in 6 weekends, once a month for 3 weekends in the fall and 3 in the spring so that people have time in between to digest the material, and they also have time to design a project. I’m teaching the course at the Accokeek Foundation…
Patricia: It’s about 20 minutes south of the National Mall in DC.
Patricia: On the [unclear] river and… We learn hand-on skills as well as design skills. Anyone can take the course if you have a high school degree. There’s no prerequisite. You don’t need a college education or any experience in gardening. Everyone does design a real site. So either they do their home or school or any site that is convenient for them.
Frank: Do you know what it cost approximately?
Patricia: Okay, well the cost is $177 per weekend.
Patricia: There is a payment plan and so the total at the end of 9 months is $1066, I think… $1060, I think.
Frank: Got it, got it.
Frank: Have you done—
Patricia: We do have carpools. There’s no public transportation.
Frank: How long have you been doing this? Have you done this class before? What’s your history?
Patricia: Okay. I’ve been teaching this certificate course since 1999.
Patricia: I teach at a college and now I’m teaching it independently.
Frank: Got it.
Patricia: So I have people from all walks of life every age from every background.
Nancy: And internationally it looks like.
Patricia: Yes, yes I’ve had people from other countries, design projects in their country, France, Africa, Canada…
Frank: Is there a virtual component to the class? I mean are you able to enroll in a class if you can’t physically be there?
Patricia: No not in this class but there are online courses that people can find.
Frank: Okay. You spoke of seasonal eating and growing, and you talked about that being healthier. Would you elaborate on that a little bit because I don’t eat seasonally. I eat the same thing—
Nancy: All year round.
Frank: —all year round. Yes. Help me out.
Patricia: Okay well… I guess it’s one train of thought but if we eat with the seasons that the foods we eat are healthier for us. So I’m no expert on this area. I just tend to do it because I do grow a lot of my own food… But certain foods are just more warming in the winter time and cooling in the summer.
Frank: Got it.
Patricia: So… yeah. I mean if you ate seasonally, you would be healthier. Its not like a science, science you know…
Frank: Okay. Alright. And on the social side of permaculture, is there a community of folks that come together around this in let’s say in a DC type area? Or is everybody—
Nancy: Like a meet-up?
Frank: Yeah. Is everybody spread out around the country?
Nancy: Permaculture meet-up…
Patricia: Okay. Well I have a meet-up, it’s Permaculture Maryland.
Nancy: Interesting… Okay.
Patricia: I list the course and the workshop I offer. There are groups around. They tend to be kind of few and far between on the East Coast, much more popular on the West Coast. You just Google “permaculture” and it’ll come up.
Frank: Okay, alright. How do you think or does it promote—are you able to promote social relationships with people around permaculture? Or is it just… How many people come to you—
Nancy: If he’s looking for a new girlfriend, Pattie…
Frank: Yeah, yeah…
Nancy: Should he go to a permaculture meet-up? And discussed someone…
Patricia: If you want to meet somebody like my [unclear]—
Frank: If Jeff is looking for a new friend…
Patricia: —you would attend something that you’re interested [unclear] somebody…
Patricia: …with the same interest.
Nancy: Yeah, yeah. Makes sense.
Frank: And is… There’s a machismal part I want to see about… Are there guys who pound their chest because they can grow their own food? Because it seems like a heck of a skill… But it seems also like a feminine thing to do.
Nancy: You know what? Oh my goodness… There was article out there that made some notion about growing food being girly and I was like “really?” I didn’t think that at all.
Frank: I could see the undertone there. but I can also see how it’s very strong.
Patricia: That’s a provocative question. I think traditionally, most farmers have been men and if you’ve ever met a farmer, it’s a business.
Patricia: It is a business 24/7. Every decision that is made is a business decision. So I think people overlook that and there’s nothing weak about that…
Nancy: At all, yeah…
Patricia: If anything, I think that women farmers are trying to support each other because it’s more rare for women to have their own farming business.
Frank: Got it.
Patricia: Like growing your own food in your backyard and people [unclear] on that. And actually, forest gardening is a very, very old practice but it’s still used in the tropics in many countries like the Philippines that is just… Everybody did it because they had small plots of land and in the tropics, there’s so much fun that you can put plants very close to each other and have a lot of vertical space. So men have always grown their own food all over the world, as well as women.
Nancy: See that? See that?
Frank: Okay, alright. I stay acquit.
Nancy: So in the… What? 16—
Patricia: In fact, in Africa, women… Actually I think Africa’s the only place where—
Nancy: Mostly the women—
Patricia: —most of the country is women do most of the farming.
Frank: What about if I don’t have a green thumb and everything I plant just dies? Any tips for me?
Patricia: Well that just means that… you’re missing a few things… You know, you just need to learn a few things. It’s like… You don’t know how to ride a bike, you have to learn.
Nancy: And we should stay away from people…
Patricia: And we can learn almost anything. If you want to learn how to drive a car… It’s a basic need. It’s like, why don’t we know how to ride a horse because we don’t need a horse. We use a car. So why don’t we grow our own food because we don’t need [unclear] in supermarkets. You know?
Nancy: But, okay… So… What you’re suggesting that need as the environment changes that need it will grow, the need for us to have our own to do more for ourselves will grow. I did see something that said that as the population grows in the environment gets more vulnerable that we will have to reduce the amount of resources we’re using by like 40% in due course of time, is that real? Or is that an exaggeration?
Patricia: No, it’s not an exaggeration at all. If you think about the way that rate that which the population is growing… I mean, there are countries buying farmlands… Like in Africa, Japan, other countries are buying farmlands in countries that have farmlands that sell cheaply.
Patricia: And it’s for the future. Unfortunately, we have had many innovators figure out ways to grow food on very small pieces of land. So there are a lot of techniques for doing that that we can implement.
Frank: There are a couple of terms I want to run by you, maybe names and that sort of thing and I want to get your impression or comment, anything you have… One, Monsanto.
Patricia: Okay… Well I’m not terribly political but Monsanto is a company that has been trying to get control of our feed bank and get control of agriculture in general by promoting their chemicals so that farmers become dependent on them. This is really dangerous because it’s all polluting and seeds can become so contaminated that they are not as high quality as they could be or they’re engineered to be easy to—for the produce to be transported or something… The quality of the seed is not necessarily what’s best for us. So it’s very important that they be stopped. And also the chemicals as you probably know, a lot of the chemicals that they make kill bees and without bees, we’re not going to have food because they pollinate lands.
Frank: Skyscraper farming.
Patricia: Oh in fact, let me just back up one minute—
Patricia: —because I want to commend you Frank, for supporting flowers. I always say if you do nothing else, plant some flowers because most flowers attract bees and the bees don’t have enough habitat.
Frank: I’m doing something right.
Patricia: So if you’re buying flowers, you’re supporting people that are growing them.
Nancy: Oh my gracious… even if you’re not bringing them to the studio where we record, it’s okay… It’s alright… you’re still a good person…
Frank: Thank you, thank you… Helping bees to be here.
Frank: Skyscraper farming, what is that?
Patricia: I’m not sure but I know that there are farms on top of buildings…
Nancy: Yeah, rooftop farming…
Patricia: …and now in Brooklyn there’s some huge warehouse, old warehouses that are not in use that have farms on their roofs that are actually selling produce and not just growing it to themselves but they’re selling the produce in the city.
Frank: How much dirt do you need on a roof in order to plant a crop and on the ground? Is—
Nancy: You don’t really need that much…
Patricia: I’m not really sure but I know they use very high quality soil and also those buildings are very strong. So the first thing you need to do is have an engineer inspect the structure, make sure it’s strong enough.
Nancy: Oh okay.
Patricia: Yeah, mmm.
Frank: Hydroponics, what’s that?
Patricia: Well, hydroponics is growing plants without soil.
Nancy: You an advocate of that?
Patricia: Water and you probably know Will Allen who has popularized the system of aguaponics where he grows fish in tanks in… I think he’s in… Is it Milwaukee? This is very good for cities, there are one or two in Baltimore. Grow fish in tanks, the water is circulated into sort of like basins of plants and you can grow vegetables without soil because the fertilizer from the fish manure in the water fertilizes the plants. The plants clean the water and the water goes back into the fish tanks. So it’s a closed system and it’s using a small space to produce both fish and plants.
Frank: Interesting. Genetically modified organisms, GMO.
Patricia: You’re really testing me here. Alright. So that’s where the seed of plants have been altered genetically and they’re not natural. They’ve been man-made and one of the biggest problems is that if someone grows a field of corn that is genetically modified, that seed can travel I believe, atleast a mile.
Patricia: The pollen can travel and contaminate another field of non-GMO more.
Patricia: Once it’s contaminated, that’s it.
Frank/Nancy: Interesting. Yeah…
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’ve been talking with permaculture instructor and practitioner, Patricia Ceglia. Patricia, last time, what are you up to and how can we find you?
Patricia: Okay so… if someone’s interested in taking my course, which starts on September 24, they can go to the accokeekfoundation.org. My website is PatriciaCeglia.com and I also have a permaculture course website of my own. It’s a long name – permaculturedesigneducation.patriciaceglia.com.
Nancy: What’s the text you use?
Patricia: We use books called Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway which is the most popular permaculture book currently and I also use a small text by Bill Mollison called Introduction to Permaculture.
Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed measuring the various resources used in your home and reducing the usage; we’ve discussed local versus organic and urban farming. Thank you to my co-host, Nancy; thank to Jeff Newman, my engineer; and thank you to my guest, Patricia Ceglia. You’ve been great. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had hanging out with today’s ensemble.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that I hope you create a relation that’s as loving and accepting as possible.
Let us know what you think of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter at @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. If you’re listening via Blog Talk Radio, make sure you like us there and if via iTunes, make sure you subscribe so that you can receive each week’s show each week.
This is Frank love.
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