The plan is simple: provide a diversity of plants to create healthy ecosystems that feed people's bodies and souls. That's why we offer you Bread & Roses.
Plants meet so many of our basic needs. In Permaculture we often refer to the 7 Fs: food, fertilizer, fodder, fuel, fiber, 'f'armaceuticals, and fun! We hope to bring all of these to the table in our expansion of Bread & Roses Nursery.
What is Permaculture? Why are we so passionate about plants?
The word's been buzzing around lately, and most people have a vague understanding that Permaculture is "something like organic gardening with recycled materials and stuff".
But Permaculture is much more than that. To us Permaculture is a guiding philosophy for how we make decisions that impact our relationship with the Earth and all of its inhabitants.
Earth Care. People Care. Fair Share. This means before taking new steps forward we try our best to look ahead and see what ultimate outcome it will make on the world. Our goal is to use our planet's resources (sun, water, soil) carefully and intelligently in ways that can generate more yields than previously existed. Ultimately we hope to turn the global one-way street of using and abusing fossil fuels (which always result in greater pollution = wasted energy), into an economy that invests in renewable resources (people, plants, and animals). Now that's not just sustainable, it's regenerative!
Though our goals and aspirations may seem far-reaching, you can re-invision your landscape with useful plants in small and simple ways. Just imagine an apple tree out front. It's blossoms lift your heart every spring, shade keeps you cool in the hot summer, and fruit fills your belly in fall and through the winter. Best of all, once the apple tree is planted all of these are literally within your a few steps from your front door! With the simple act of planting a tree, you've cut down on your fossil fuel use (food transportation), increased the quality of air around your home (trees expire oxygen), cut down on home energy use (shade), and obtained the healthy, organic, seasonal food your body needs.
"All the world's problems can be solved in a garden." -Geoff Lawton, Permaculture Designer and Educator
While our primary focus is on edible plants (fruit trees, berries, culinary herbs etc), we also aim to supply Bloomington, IN with a wide array of supporting species. For example, some shrubs (e.g. bayberry) and wildflowers (e.g. false indigo) can "fix" nitrogen in the soil and increase soil fertility--this in turn feeds your raspberries and keeps them juicy and plump (Mmmmm!). Some herbs, such as chives or rosemary, repel pests that might otherwise munch on your apples--and you can eat the chives and rosemary too!. At the same time many of these plants can sooth an aching body (the aroma of feverfew eases headaches) or provide uncanny beauty (have you ever seen magenta lambsquarter?) We can create a multi-layered, interconnected planting where a diverse mix of plants provides beneficial relationships with one another to yield a wider range of food and beauty than most other landscape environments. So really, to say we work with landscapes falls short of the truth: we're managing biocompatible ecosystems for human needs.
Here are some examples of the plants we carry. To see a complete list please refer to our website:
Edibles: fruit trees (plums, apricots, apples), shrubs (blackberries, gogi berries, currants), herbs (sorrel, sunchokes, leeks), vines (kiwi, grapes, passionflower), groundcovers (mints, violets, strawberries)
Nitrogen-Fixers: bayberry, baptisa, amorpha, legumes (beans & peas), new jersey tea, alder, locust
Dynamic Accumulators: stinging nettle, comfrey, violets, yarrow, echinacea
Pest Confusors: aromatic herbs (lavender, rosemary, winter savory, thyme), alliums (chives, garlic, onions), horseradish, tansy, wintergreen
Medicinal Herbs: marshmallow, feverfew, comfrey, skullcap, borage, mugwort, lemon balm
Native Wildflowers: cardinal flower, milkweed, evening primrose, bee balm (monarda), joe-pye weed
B&R Nursery Background:
Our Staff Salem Willard and Jonas Carpenter: We are the driving force behind Bread and Roses. Combined we have over a decade of growing experience during which we've been honing our plant-growing skills. While we work hard throughout the year to create quality plants, we never stop having fun learning about new species and how we can adapt them to our local climate--we're not afraid to reach outside our USDA Cold Hardiness Zone. We are both certified Permaculture designers, trained to create functional food systems derived from in nature. These systems not only create a more abundant world around us, but empower us to live a more fulfilling, interconnected life. Our strength lies within our commitment to create a broader understanding of Permaculture in the Bloomington community, and based on our experience, this collaboration has also empowered those around us. We push each other every day, doing what we like to call "The Good Work”!
What we have already accomplished:
Last year we went all-in to get the nursery started. We invested in loads of parent stock--those we could use to propagate new plants for years to come. We needed to buy pots to standardize our plant sizes and make sure every customer receives an equally robust and happy plant. We spent several weeks with our interns creating new nursery beds where we could grow-out smaller plants for the following season. And when the time came to show our little seedlings and shrubberies to the public, people immediately recognized the quality of our work. During spring and fall we co-hosted plant sales with Keith Johnson and Peter Bane of Renaissance Farm just outside of Bloomington. We sold out of quite a few offerings in the spring and really worked hard to keep up with the demand this fall. We had many repeat customers, building up a wealth of social capital (now that is our kind of banking!). These connections are what make all of the hard work worth it! We have also found happy homes for a lot of our plants through implementing designs we have done for a diverse range of clients. From broad scale silvopasture projects on W.E. Farm to household scale edible landscapes in Bloomington, it is clear that we are not your typical landscapers. Creating dynamic abundant systems is our goal and it is so rewarding to help others find a path to a more resilient future with plants!
What the future holds:
The Bloomington Community Farmers' Market: In 2013, Bread and Roses is planning to have a booth at our fantastic local market! Bloomington’s market is an essential resource for our community and has become quite the Saturday tradition. The market is known for its expansive offering of locally crafted and grown products. Getting to market is the main goal of our Kickstarter campaign. We hope to find our niche at market by offering a diverse range of useful plants, mushroom logs, seasonal produce and other farm goodies and a whole heck of a lot of useful information! Our aim is to join our fellow growers and friends at market in order to raise awareness about food security. We cannot imagine a better way to connect with folks than being at market with the thousands of visitors who stroll through each week!
Our Headquarters: Will Holler. Actually, since we eat (stuff our mouths), sleep (rest our heads), and work (busy our brains and bodies) here, I guess Headquarters is fairly appropriate. The Nursery is located about 10 miles south of Bloomington, IN, in the home of Hoosier National Forest. The land is on a 3-acre hollow (or holler as Hoosiers say) owned by Salem Willard, and named in honor of his grandfather, Harlow 'Will' Willard (i.e. Will Holler). This little slice of heaven still remains "off-grid" by choice now after two years--a modest solar array pulls-in electricity, rain catchment tanks and well supply water, wood keeps us warm, and we bring in some propane gas for cooking. Working with and on the land keeps the Earth's welfare foremost one our minds; every time we pick up a shovel, a fallen limb, or a handful of soil. Best of all, being surrounded by the forest is a daily source of exercise and inspiration!
Kickstarter Funding: As with most projects there is hardly a limit to the amount of funding we could use. But because anything would help us we are setting our goal low. Here is an idea of what we would be using the funds for.
$5,000: Our Project Goal is to prepare for the 2013 Bloomington Community Farmer's Market. For this purpose we will need to invest more in all of the following: Pots, Plants, Soil Amendments, Plant Tags, Tools, Fruit Tree Root Stock, Catalogue Printing, Signage & Displays, Market Tent and Cart, and Market Fees. Once these basic needs are met to launch forward, we hope to complete many more projects in the upcoming years. We would sincerely appreciate any additional pledges beyond our baseline will help us meet these goals:
$5,000-10,000: Apprentice Stipend & Educational Outreach in order to increase the number of community members well-trained in the art of growing regenerative food, Additional Greenhouse Space to increase plant quantity and variety for future years at market, Increasing Water Catchment Capacity so we can keep up with expanding plant stock
$10,000 and beyond: Nursery Truck so we can have reliable transportation to market every week, Seasonal Employee Wage, Local Advertising via local media such as the WFHB (Bloomington's only local, independent radio station), Additional Deer Protection to keep our nursery plants out of the mouths of our forest neighbors
Risks and challenges
With most occupations involving working outdoors and growing plants, harsh weather conditions can really put a damper on productivity. That said, we work hard to design for drought and flood--we catch water off every impermeable surface possible and store it for when the "well runs dry"--in our case, this is a reality. We have put a lot of work into keeping our greenhouse warm and productive, without relying on fossil fuels for heating, through the cold, grey southern Indiana winters. This allows us to continue growing year-round while everything outside lies dormant.
Keeping our bodies in good health is a must, since we must use them in order to make money. We believe the pinnacle to good health is a good diet, and boy, do we practice this sincerely! Around 70% of our diet comes directly from The Holler, and much of this also contributes to the nursery. Our chickens provide us with not only eggs and meat, but also well-fertilized compost, which we use in our soil mixes. We seasonally raise pigs--another great source for protein and fertilizer. Veggies and greens abound year-round, and we always have plenty to share! This is precisely the prodigious type of system we want to inspire others to create in our community.
Most importantly, we feel that not having a local nursery such as Bread & Roses poses a larger risk to the community than what we are attempting. As our climate continues to change and become more unstable, the need for local food production becomes imperative. By giving people the tools and knowledge they need to grow more food at home, we can increase our community's food security. This will simultaneously decrease fossil fuel consumption and reduce our impact on the environment, making it a better place for us all.
Even beyond this, let's assume that our business model fails due to lack of involvement and response from the community (though we should add that given the overwhelming positive feedback and food re-localization movement in Bloomington, this is our least concern). If the nursery does not succeed to our expectations, we will have the roots planted for a pretty amazing farm which could at least provide food to the Bloomington community. Because these plants are perennial, they will bring yields year after year for decades to come. Education would still certainly play a significant role in a farm scenario; we could create a working share CSA where members are encouraged to contribute to the planting and harvesting, and in the process become more intimately connected to their food source.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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